PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR
"We have appointed sixteen hundred patrolmen under these examinations ... If they were strong, hardy young fellows of good character and fair intelligence they got their appointments. As a whole, they form the finest body of recruits that have ever been added to the New York police force.” Roosevelt became New York Police Commissioner in 1895, inheriting a force weakened by widespread Tammany Hall corruption and patronage; promotions were often doled out based on political affiliation, or sold. With his customary zeal for reform, Roosevelt sought to reinvent the NYPD. He sought to promote the idea of policing as an ethical and honorable profession.
The present letter was written in order to address questions posed by Mr. Abraham Gruber, relating to the scope of the new entrance examination, drafted by Roosevelt. “I have read with interest the four pages of questions quoted from the Police Civil Service examinations, under the heading ‘The Reign of Roosevelt,’ and apparently gathered by or for Mr. Abraham Gruber. He refers to these questions as if they were in some way improper and not such as should be asked candidates for the position of patrolman," Roosevelt writes to Sanger. " Mr. Gruber’s contention apparently is that questions which it is proper to ask a man before he becomes a citizen are improper when asked him upon his seeking to become the official representative of all citizens and, in a peculiar sense, the guardian of the laws and the upholder of the government." Roosevelt then goes on to cite specific examples of questions and answers given in the exam: "one question we asked was to name five of the States that seceded from the Union in 1861. One answer was ‘New York, Albany, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Delaware.’ Another question was ‘Name five of the New England States?’ One answer to this question was ‘England, Ireland, Scotland, Whales and Cork.’ ... Another question was ‘Upon what written instrument is the government of the United States founded?’ The conclusion one bright competitor reached was expressed in the brief word ‘Paper.’...
William C. Sanger was born in Brooklyn, educated at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, Harvard College and Columbia Law School, and became a New York City lawyer. Roosevelt and Sanger were each members of the Boone and Crockett Club, an important wilderness preservation advocacy group.
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